Maybe it’s time to reconsider the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs”. A good alternative might be “It’s raining Elvis Gospel CD’s”, since we are flooded with them lately. The huge success of the “He Touched Me” documentary last year probably caused this. Every publisher wants to have a share. After BMG put out the 3CD set “Peace in the Valley” on the main label, they agreed on a 5 CD set with Provident. In the series by Provident “He Is My Everything” and “Nearer My God To Thee” are already released. Of course we had the "Easter Special" on the FTD-label last month and now “The Gospel Songs” arrived. This is a new release in Green Hill’s “Legendary Masters Collection”, for us Elvis’ fans it is the follow up to their “Love Songs”-CD in 2000.
Again a simple but tasteful design: a very familiar picture brought in ochre tints. The liner notes are, as with the other CD in this series, with a gray gradient background. Also again the liner notes are very inconsistent and incomplete. Most songs are listed as “originally recorded prior to 1972”, except “If That Isn’t Love”, which has the exact year (of first release). This last song is also the only one of which is said where it was recorded (Memphis). With the listing of backing-vocals Green Hill messed up completely. We wonder if they really didn’t hear the backing on “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. It really is a pity this is done in such an inconsequent and incomplete way.
The set itself is okay, but it is strange that “Bridge” ended up on it. Not that we really mind, since it is without any doubt one of the best performances on the CD and it is the version without the stupid audience overdub. Overall the mixture is good, divided over the three decades that Elvis recorded gospel music. Three songs of the 50’s and only one of both the “His Hand in Mine” and “He Touched Me” sessions is maybe a little bit out of balance regarding the amount of songs that were recorded in those three sessions, but one have to make a choice. Especially after someone decided to put only 12 songs (42’50) on the CD. For the general public this CD might be an eye-opener, but for the average Elvis-fan this release is completely unnecessary (unless you are a fanatic collector).